Michele Bachmann's gay stepsister Helen LaFave has said Bachmann's anti-gay rhetoric is “hurtful.”

Bachmann, who has positioned herself as the most socially conservative candidate in the GOP presidential field, regularly boasts of her sponsorship as a Minnesota senator of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, has said she would reinstate “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the just ended policy that banned gay and bisexual troops from serving openly, and has defended her clinic's attempts to “cure” gay people of their sexuality. The two Minnesota-based clinics are run by her husband Marcus Bachmann.

Bachmann, who in 2004 likened being gay to “personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement,” has denied accusations that she's anti-gay, telling PEOPLE that she's “no better than anyone else.”

Marcus Bachmann added, “There's never been a bias.”

Helen LaFave, Michele Bachmann's gay stepsister, told the magazine that her words are “hurtful.”

“Yes, we are family and love each other, but she seems to have a disconnect,” LaFave said. “Her statements and actions related to gay rights are very hurtful, whether she understands that or not.”